Etiquettes of Celebrations – The Sunnah Way

ConfettiThe faces of the old and young – and indeed even the trees and birds around us – rejoice when they come to know about the happiness of the beloved Prophet (sa). His happiness is the happiness for those, who love him, and it is guidance for his followers. The Prophetic guidance teaches us the manners of how to be happy in the times of success and joy.

Allah (swt) did not create us to be robots. He created us with feelings, will, intellect and has granted us the liberty to choose and to act according to the situations. Now it is obligatory on a believer to adopt the Sunnah of Prophet (sa) in every sphere of his life, as acting upon Sunnah is also a worship of our Lord.

Let’s learn the etiquettes of celebrating joy and success as per Sunnah of the Prophet(sa) in different occasions of our lives.

Marriage – A Sacred Occasion

Out of all the occasions of celebration of joy and success, the marriage comes first on the list, as this is the occasion of our life in which we break the rules and commandments of Allah (swt) the most. Marriage (Nikah) is a solemn and sacred social contract between bride and groom. It is a major step in one’s life. Marriage is a matter of great responsibility which should not be taken lightly by any means. In Islam, a marriage ceremony is comprised of a Nikah (marriage contract) followed by a Walima (marriage feast) once the marriage is done.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The marriage, which is most greatly blessed, is the one which is the lightest in burden (expense). However, if people are well catered for, without extravagance and show, there is no problem with that either.” (Baihaqi)

Nowadays, our marriages follow such rituals and customs on which we tend to waste enormous amount of money and time that simply isn’t required. Nikah and Walima are both the Sunnahs of the Prophet Muhammad (sa), so we should try to commemorate these joyous occasions in the same way as he did to make them more valuable and blessful.

According to Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa), the Nikah can be held at the local asjid or at home whereas the Walima can be held anywhere.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The worst of the feasts are those marriage feasts to which the rich are invited and the poor are left out.” (Mishkat)

Anas  describes one of the Walimas hosted by the Prophet (sa): “The Prophet(sa) stayed for three days at a place between Khaibar and Madinah and there he consummated his marriage with Safiyya bint Huyay (rta). He invited the Muslims to a banquet which included neither meat nor bread. The Prophet (sa) ordered leather dining sheets to be spread. Dates, dried yogurt and butter were provided over it and that was the Walima (banquet) of the Prophet (sa).” (Bukhari)

There is nothing wrong with  an elaborate ceremony being  held in an elegant banquet hall and a full-course meal if you can afford. But its neither a criteria nor a requirement of a successful marriage. Moreover by doing so many people become the victim of debt due to spending extravagantly on this occasion which is of no use.

Although it’s not that easy to row your boat in the opposite direction to which the society is moving, but it’s worth going against the tides that are against the command of  Allah (swt) and the teachings of the Prophet (sa). We should try our utmost to follow the footsteps of Prophet (sa) rather than blindly following the pathetic, shameless acts of Jahiliyyah in our wedding ceremonies which lead to nothing but Fitnah and do not even guarantee  a successful marriage.

Eid – The Blessful Occasion

Islam is a very practical yet reasonable religion. After spending the whole month of Ramadan in worshipping Allah (swt), Muslims are blessed with the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr to celebrate this success with happiness and excitement. Similarly, Allah (swt) has blessed us with Eid- ul-Adha in the memory of the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (as).Therefore on these two occasions, the observance of the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (sa) doubles our celebration and joy.

The Sunnahs of Eids include:waking up early in the morning than usual, brushing of teeth with Miswak, taking a bath, dressing up in neat and clean clothes, using perfume and the performance of Eid Salah at the Eidgah. However it is a Sunnah to avoid eating dates or something sweet before Eid Salah of Eid-ul-Fitr , reciting aloud Takbeerat on the way to the place of prayer for Eid-ul-Adha and silently for Eid-ul-Fitr:

 “Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar Laa ilaaha illallaahu Wallaahu Akbar walillaahil Hamd.”

Using of different routes to and from the place of Eid Salah and the offering of two Rakahs of Salat-ul-Eidain (which is Wajib) are the Sunnah of celebrating these joyous occasions.

Sport Success Celebration

Then there comes a celebration of success and joy during sports activities where we are especially required to follow the Sunnah of our Prophet (sa). Playing sports is permissible in Islam. There are some sports which are considered to be Sunnah sports such as archery, wrestling, swimming, running, horse riding, camel racing and competition. Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to watch these sports and also award those who won.

Regardless of age, everybody is engaged or interested in some kind of sport. Sport is defined as ‘physical activities in the form of games, races and competitions that aim to improve fitness.’

While playing sports and celebrating the success, one must keep the following things in mind; the foremost is not to indulge in sports to such an extent that you miss your Fard prayers or to take part in sports where you have to play sports with the opposite gender.

According to Sunnah, the sportsman is not even allowed to wear such clothes which do not cover the body parts that are obligatory to cover. During the celebration of victory and joy, it is not permissible to use foul language, slandering and bad behaviour against the opponents. Furthermore, it is against the Sunnah of Prophet (sa) to play sports in areas where you become the cause of suffering for others such as roads and crowded streets.

Gratitude is Sunnah

In short, it is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) to be humble and thankful to Allah (swt) when one gets His Blessings in the form of success or joy rather being rude, boastful and arrogant. Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (sa) was happy, for example, after coming back from a battle or on the occasions of Eids, marriage or any other occasion of happiness; he always used to offer Nafil to thank Almighty Allah (swt) and also included the poor and needy in his happiness by giving charity or Sadaqah.

[Hadeeth Commentary] Fulfilling the Needs of Another Muslim

Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali

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Related on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah (swt) will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the hereafter. Whosoever alleviates the difficulties of a needy person who cannot pay his debt, Allah (swt) will alleviate his difficulties in both this world and the hereafter. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will conceal his faults in this world and the hereafter. Allah (swt) will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother. Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah (swt) will make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allah (swt), reciting the Book of Allah (swt) and studying it among themselves, except that tranquility descends upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them, and Allah (swt) makes mention of them amongst those who are in His presence. Whosoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.” (Muslim)

This is a comprehensive Hadeeth that teaches us how to behave as part of a society. It can be divided into two parts:

  • The ways we can help each other
  • The virtues of the study circle (Halaqa, Dars etc…)

The Hadeeth ends with a statement that categorically denies any benefit you might think your lineage will offer on the Day of Judgement.

How can we help each other?

There are essentially four ways demonstrated in the narrative above.

  1. Whoever removes a source of worldly grief from a believer, Allah (swt) will remove from him one of his sources of grief on the Day of Resurrection.
  2. Whoever eases the necessity of a needy person, Allah (swt) will lessen his needs in this world and the hereafter.
  3. Whoever shields (or hides the misdeeds) of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will shield him in this world and the hereafter.
  4. Allah (swt) will aid His slave as long as he aids his brother.

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This guarantees that the profit earned from an act is of a comparable nature to the act itself. Or, that you will be treated the same way, in fact better than the way you treat another Muslim. You will get equal amounts of relief, help and protection in this world and also after you leave this temporary abode. Ibn Rajab, as quoted by An-Nawawi, talks about the difference between the two situations – in this world and the hereafter. Not everyone has a difficult life in this world, or is distressed. Since the difficulties of this life are incomparable to the distressful aspects of the hereafter, Allah (swt) reserves the reward for striving to relieve another Muslim’s distress of this life until the Day of Judgement. Many Ahadeeth emphasize on this principle. Grief or distress in this Hadeeth means a great difficulty or hardship a Muslim is facing. In one version of the Hadeeth, it is stated as “whosoever relieves” and in another version “whosoever removes”. There is obviously a difference between the two versions because ‘to relieve’ means to minimize the difficulty or distress, whereas ‘to remove’ means to totally eradicate the difficulty or hardship.” (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)

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“And if the debtor is in a hard time (has no money), then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay, but if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:280)

Specifically with debt, if a person dies with it his burial is on hold until the debt is repaid. Avoid falling into debt just to have what others have. To make it easy, if someone needs to repay you some money and they cannot pay you on time, forgive them. Give them more time or tell them to repay whatever they can. This by itself is Sadaqah.

How to shield your Muslim brother?

Ibn Rajab says that people can fall into two categories:

  1. Those who are not known for transgression or committing bad deeds. For these people, if by any chance they commit a mistake, it should not be revealed. On the contrary, it should be concealed and not talked about.
  2. Those who are well known transgressors, and who speak proudly about their shameful and sinful acts. Ibn Rajab mentions that if there is a need to mention the qualities of these people, we should do so for the benefit of the Muslim community. (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)

The general rule of the Hadeeth is that Muslims must not disclose the faults of other Muslims unless they are of the second category and then only to an authority who will discipline them for the benefit of the Ummah. Satara is to cover someone’s mistakes; there are three types of ‘Sittar’:

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A scholar said it is better to make a mistake in pardoning someone than to make a mistake by punishing someone wrongly. No matter how you help a fellow Muslim, you will be rewarded.

What are the virtues of a study circle?

This is the core of Islam, searching for and acquiring knowledge. This part of the Hadeeth is usually interpreted as follows:

  1. Allah (swt) will ease the way of the knowledge seeker to gain knowledge.
  2. Allah (swt) will assure the knowledge seeker benefits from the knowledge he is seeking.
  3. Those who pursue knowledge for the good of humanity, Allah (swt) will help them overcome distress on the Day of Judgement.
  4. Whosoever remembers Allah (swt) in a congregation, Allah (swt) mentions that person in His Divine congregation with His Angels.

In the end, we are reminded it is not who we are but what we do, and that we will bear the weight of our deeds ourselves on the Judgement Day.

May Allah (swt) enable us to be a better Muslim and implement the moral of this Hadeeth throughout our life. Ameen.